Onward

Image result for onward movie poster

I was able to see an early showing of Pixar’s latest animated movie, Onward, and I was extremely pleased that I had the chance.

This is another fantastic film from Pixar Studios.

Ian (Tom Holland) is an elf living in a fantasy world that has lost its magic and become very much like today’s real world.  His brother Barley (Chris Pratt) is a gamer who treats his Dungeon and Dragons-like game as history of the world.  They live with their mother Laurel (Julia Louis Dreyfus), who had been widowed for years.

In fact, Ian had never met his father and that loss had always challenged the character.  So, on his 16th birthday, Ian’s mother gave him a gift from his father.  It was a magic staff and a spell that could resurrect the father for one day only.

The big problem was that the magic caused some trouble and, when they attempted to bring the father back, they were only able to resurrect half of the man, from the waist down.

Having a day left to try and find another magic gem that could finish the job, Ian and Barley headed out on an adventure of self-discovery and brotherly bonding.

Honestly, the first part of Onward was a bit slow and it was fine.  However, when you are watching a Pixar film, fine does not cut it.  As the film progressed though, the emotional bond between Ian and Barley started to carry the movie and it was not too long until Onward was firing on all cylinders.  Honestly, the third act of this movie was just tremendous and took Onward to a different level.

Pixar certainly knows how to create emotions among the viewers.  They tugged on the feelings throughout the movie and I am not ashamed to admit that the final act saw me with tears running down my face.  It reminded me, in good ways, of both Coco and Inside Out.  It also absolutely had a ton of homages to Indiana Jones movies in fairly obvious ways.

The voice cast was outstanding.  I have already mentioned Holland, Pratt and Louis Dreyfus, but I have not yet mentioned Octavia Spencer, who voices the Manticore, an amalgam of several animals (like a griffin) that had a legendary history in the fantasy world.  Spencer was great and had some of the funniest lines in the film.

Of course, the animation in the movie was continually great.  Pixar films are always above the line for CGI and character creation.  It is a beautiful film to look at through the entire run.

In the end, the movie truly dives into the brotherly connection between Ian and Barley, providing a relationship that is undeniably relatable and powerful.  The sentiments of loss that are interspersed in the script is done deftly and in a way that expertly draws out the emotions in the viewers, both young and old.  The third act of this movie is as good as it gets and really takes what was being set up as a decent Pixar movie and makes it an excellent Pixar movie.

When this opens nationwide next weekend, make sure you take your family to see it.  Or go on your own.  It is worth your time.

4.5 stars

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